This Saturday, people can give the environment a boost at two events: the Delaware Coastal Cleanup and a tree planting at a Millsboro nature refuge.
Statewide, 2,500 volunteers are expected to help clean 48 shorelines at the Coastal Cleanup.
“It gives some people an idea of just how polluted some of our beaches … can really be,” said Rachel Coats of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. “If you really stop and take the time to see how much trash is on the beach — this is how it is year-round. And we just take one day out of the year to clean it up.”
Nearly 9 tons of trash was collected in 2012, including plastic bottles, cigarette butts and food wrappers. Past unusual finds include a hermit crab house, a bucket of tar, a Hula Hoop, a birdfeeder, a door, a radio-controlled model airplane, a perfume bottle, a toilet and a skateboard.
The successful recycling program that is now part of the Coastal Cleanup will continue, as volunteers now get regular black trash bags, plus a second color for recyclables.
Volunteers usually become more conscious of the waste they’re leaving behind on a regular basis, according to Coats.
Online registration for the event will have closed by the week’s end, but volunteers are still welcome at the 9 a.m. to noon Cleanup. Cleanup areas in Bethany Beach, Fenwick Island’s town beach, Fenwick Island State Park and South Bethany were still seeking volunteers mid-week. Supplies may be limited, so people are welcome to supply their own trash bags or disposable gloves.
“If they want to come and help out, then we would definitely love for them to still come,” Coats said.
The rain date is Sept. 28. For more information and a complete list of locations, visit www.dnrec.delaware.gov/CoastalCleanup/Pages.
Growing a nature refuge
Volunteers will begin restoration of the Marian R. Okie Memorial Wildlife Preserve at Poplar Thicket in Millsboro on Saturday, from 9 a.m. to noon.
The 226-acre property is a mix of farmland, forest and tidal marsh on the Indian River and was donated to the people of Delaware by Austin Okie in memory of his daughter. The preserve is hoped to be a bird sanctuary, as well.
People can see the new public preserve and begin planting 2,000 seedling trees, grasses and shrubs with the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays (CIB) on Sept. 21.
Volunteers will plant small plants, or “tubelings,” in patches of trees and shrubs that will provide nesting space and food.
“This gives them a little more diverse habitat, increases habitat available to them, so nests are aboveground, more secure, more comfortable,” said Eric Buehl of the CIB. “Habitat has been declining in the inland bays, and here’s a little bit of a chance to put it back.”
Planting materials will be provided, although people are encouraged to bring their own garden spade, boots and gardening gloves.
Contact Eric or Bart at (302) 226-8105 to get involved. Poplar Thicket is on Long Neck Road, 4.5 miles east of the Route 24 intersection. The event is part of Delaware Sea Level Rise Awareness Week, observed from Sept. 14 to 22 this year.